Peck Cemetery is located in the northeastern part
of Macon County, near the towns of Oakley and Cerro Gordo. The
cemetery is an isolated place, enclosed by a rusted iron fence, and
it is hidden from the road by thick woods. It is surrounded by heavy
forest and trees loom over the grounds. In addition, the graveyard
is accessible only by way of a rutted dirt road and through a metal
gate, which is usually kept locked. Trespassers are not welcome
|The reason for this is because since the 1970's,
Peck Cemetery has been a popular place for teenagers to
go and have parties and attempt to scare themselves
silly. If this were the end of it, that would not be a
problem. Unfortunately, a small minority of these
teenagers have also felt the need to vandalize the
cemetery. The burial ground is now in deplorable
condition as the majority of the stones have been
toppled and broken, have been turned over and even have
been sprayed with bright paint. There are very few of
the monuments now standing upright and many of these
lean dangerously to the side, thanks to digging that has
been done around their bases.
And vandalism was not the only thing that added to
the reputation of the cemetery either. It was also
believed to be a haven for occult groups who were trying
to tap into the negative energy of the place. And while
I think that most alleged "Satanists" are little more
than disturbed teenagers and that most "devil
worshipping cults" are simply the fevered imaginings of
fundamentalist religious groups trying to scare the
general public, there are some pretty scary people out
there. There are people who do take the occult very
seriously and I have it on pretty good authority that
some of them used to gravitate to Peck Cemetery. While
the stories may have grown a little larger than life
over the years, some pretty strange and bizarre things
have taken place here.
Satanic cultists aside though, stories had been
told for a number of years that suggested that something lurked in
this cemetery. There were many tales told about the place and
witnesses and late night visitors to the cemetery had come forward
to claim a number of strange happenings and to recall many
frightening events. Such stories included apparitions in the
graveyard; inexplicable cries; whispers and voices; hooded figures;
eerie lights; and even the sound of a woman's scream that seemed to
come from nowhere.
(Left) This photo only gives you a small amount of the
damage that has been done over the last couple of
decades in Peck Cemetery.
(Right) This headless statue did not come from any
monument in Peck Cemetery. It, and the blood poured over
the base over the neck, was left behind by cultists who
practice in the cemetery.
Peck Cemetery is a pretty tragic place really and
one that has always been of great interest to me. It was here, back
when I was in high school, that I had my first encounter with
something that I was not able to explain. I have recounted this
event many times over the years and I have to tell you ---- I get
goosebumps every time that I re-tell the story.
I first heard about Peck Cemetery from other students at my school
and thanks to my interest in the subject, I managed to collect some
other strange tales from students at other area schools as well. I
was determined to see this place, no matter how hard it apparently
was to find. Because of its remote location, I needed to track down
someone who had already been there and soon found a couple of
acquaintances who had made the trip ---- and returned! I was
informed that it was a matter of bravery for visitors to the
cemetery to go there late at night and to park their cars at the
gates to the graveyard with their headlights pointed inside. As the
gate was located at one corner of Peck Cemetery, they could
literally angle their car so that the headlights would shine back to
the farthest corner. The visitor's courage came into question when
they left the car and walked all the way to this dark corner and
then turned and walked back. It doesn't sound like much to the
reader, I'm sure, but take my word for it ---- it was not a pleasant
prospect when you actually arrived at the place.
According to my friends, they knew of a student at another school
(of course!) who had gone to Peck Cemetery one night and was
completing the challenge when a ghost actually came up out of the
ground in front of him! Needless to say, he ran from the graveyard
and never went back.
After hearing this, I wanted to see the place more than ever and
made arrangements with my friends for them to take me out there on
the following Saturday night. Even then, I was more than a little
bit of a skeptic when it came to other people's encounters but I
figured that since there were so many stories told about this one
location, at least a few of them had to be true, right?
A few nights later, we made the trip out to Peck Cemetery. It was
(believe it or not) a dark and stormy night and as we turned off the
hard road and onto the gravel lane that ran back to the woods and
the cemetery, everyone in the car grew quiet. As we traveled along
the rutted lane, we followed it as it dipped down into a low area
that was filled with a spooky fog. I would later learn that this fog
was almost always present during the humid summer months, but it was
especially unnerving on that night. After we reached the top of the
hill on the other side, we turned the car sharply to the left so
that the nose of it was up to the cemetery gates. The headlights
stretched out in front of us and illuminated the jumble of broken
stones and the glistening raindrops on the overhanging tree
branches. Unfortunately, it was what the lights did not illuminate
that had me bothered ---- namely the far corner of the cemetery,
which we planned to walk to in just a few moments.
My friend turned off the ignition of his vintage Camaro and we sat
there for a moment in silence. There was absolutely no sound but the
drip of water on the roof of the automobile. I think that at this
point, we had managed to spook ourselves so badly that if one of us
had suggested that we leave and go home, we likely all would have
agreed. As it was though, no one did and we quietly got out of the
car. Once outside, we finally realized how nervous we had been
making ourselves and we started to relax. Joking and laughing, we
started off across the cemetery, following the twin beams of light
that pointed off into the darkness.
As we walked further and further away from the car, the laughter
ended and we began to pick up the pace a little bit. I know that I
simply wanted to get to the other side of the cemetery and then get
back again. I can't really explain what made me feel this way (and I
am sure my friends shared the feeling) but if you ever get the
chance to visit Peck Cemetery, you will understand it. There is just
a bad feeling here, a coldness that seeps into your bones and leaves
you with an uncomfortable sensation that you just can't put your
Within a few minutes, we had reached the farthest corner of the
graveyard and we turned to start back towards the car. We must have
breathed a small sigh of relief as well. Nothing had occurred on the
trip over ---- no eerie lights, no ghosts and not even a single
sound, save for the rain that was dripping off the trees. Feeling
much bolder, we began walking back to the car, wandering to look at
some of the vandalized tombstones as we made our way back. We were
convinced by this time that nothing out of the ordinary was going to
We were wrong.
We had reached the halfway point on our return trip when suddenly,
the headlights on the car that we had left at the cemetery gates
snapped out! The graveyard was plunged into darkness! Needless to
say, we froze where we were standing. We now had a major predicament
on our hands --- the question was whether to run back to the car,
and possibly meet whatever had turned out the headlights, or to
simply stay where we were, in a cemetery that we now had started to
believe just might be haunted after all! We argued both points for a
few moments, mostly concerned about the fact that the doors to the
car had been locked. How had the lights been turned out?
We decided to compromise. We would return to the car, we agreed, but
we would do so very, very cautiously. You see, those tales of
ax-wielding Satanists in black robes didn't seem quite so silly
anymore! The four of us managed to get all of the way back across
the cemetery and we crept up on the silent, and now darkened,
automobile. After peering under the car and into the shadowy
backseat, we determined that no one was hiding nearby. However, we
had not solved the mystery of how the headlights had turned out.
Could the battery have gone dead? Were we going to be stranded out
here until someone came along to help us?
Concerned, the driver quickly unlocked the door and started to get
inside. He was about halfway into the car when he stopped and his
face turned white. His eyes were big when he looked over at me and
he hurriedly climbed back out of the car again, stumbling a few feet
away from the vehicle.
We asked him what was wrong and he simply told us that we needed to
come and see how the lights had been turned out. Keep in mind, this
was a 1960's-era automobile and there were no fancy switches or time
delays to control the headlights. The lights turned on and off by
way of a knob that was fitted into the dash ---- a knob that you
pulled out to turn the lights on and pushed in to turn them off. My
friend had left the knob pulled out when we had exited the car and
started across the cemetery. Short of this knob, the only way that
the headlights could have been turned out would have been to have
the battery die during the few minutes when we were walking in the
The battery was not dead. Somehow, through the locked doors and
rolled tight windows, a hand had physically reached in and had
punched the headlight knob to the "off" position.
That was the end of the evening for us! I did not return again to
Peck Cemetery for almost ten years…
My return to Peck Cemetery coincided with the release of my first
book in the middle 1990's. At that time, I started collecting new
stories about Peck Cemetery and people's encounters with the unknown
at the small burial ground. I heard all sorts of stories, from the
lights and sounds described earlier to first-hand accounts of actual
One young woman that I spoke with told me of a weird encounter that
she and several girlfriends had at the cemetery. She related the
story in 1998, about ten years after it had happened. She had
forgotten none of the details during that time though --- what
happened was too frightening for her to forget.
The group of young women had come to the graveyard very late one
night and had driven up the dirt road and around the corner to the
left, where the cemetery gates are located. It was very dark and all
of them were nervous and excited about the trip. However, my witness
promised me that their nervousness in no way influenced what they
all saw. They parked the car outside of the cemetery and everyone
got out. As it had been with my friends and I a few years before,
the girls decided to test their courage by walking across the
cemetery and back. This was a common practice for high school
students from all around the Decatur area. In a giggling cluster,
they began walking out among the graves.
"And that's when we saw him," she told me.
The young women were just entering the grounds when they saw a man
standing near one of the large, fallen tombstones. After they got
over their initial shock and surprise, they were curious as to how
he had gotten there. They hadn't seen any other cars nearby and
hadn't seen anyone go past them into the cemetery. One of the girls
started to speak to him and then he just wasn't there anymore. He
had simply vanished.
"I know I saw him and the others did too," she assured me. "He
looked very solid and not like a ghost or anything. He had dark hair
and was wearing a coat. I just assumed that he had come there like
we did, but all of the sudden he was just gone. And so were we! We
ran back to the car and I have never been out to that place since!"
I have spoken to other people who have also had bizarre and often
scary experiences at Peck Cemetery. My only explanation for the
things that go on here is the one that I have already offered ----
that this place is haunted! Believe me when I tell you that it does
not take a psychic to know that something is wrong in this place.
You can literally feel it when you leave the old road and pass
through the gates. There is a certain coldness and a feeling of
oppression here that nature cannot explain.
It is not a good place ---- and sadly, it hasn't been one for a long
back to Haunted Decatur!
Copyright 2006 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.